… James Oldham … is an able workman … skilled in the orders of architecture, honest, sober and industrious. he wishes to get into business on a larger scale than that of merely monthly wages and I have recommended Richmond … taking an interest in his success, and knowing that a first introduction is the most difficult step, I have taken the liberty of making his character known to you, and of asking your advice and influence on his behalf towards getting himself under way. …you may rely on his acquitting himself of his undertakings so as to do justice to your recommendation.
To John Harvie, September 27, 1804
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Empowering leaders help their subordinates move out and up.
Oldham was a joiner, a workman skilled in fashioning every kind of high-quality finished woodwork. Jefferson had employed him for over three years at Monticello. Oldham wanted to better himself, and his patron suggested taking his skills to Richmond. He sent this letter of introduction to an old family friend there.
Jefferson listed Oldham’s qualities. He was:
– Hard working
Jefferson assured his friend that any work he helped the joiner find would bring credit back to Harvie for the recommendation.